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IJV congratulates Palestinians on application to join the ICC and condemns Canada’s position

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Independent Jewish Voices – Canada (IJV) congratulates the Palestinian people for Palestine’s submission to the United Nations to join the International Criminal Court. This initiative will hopefully bring accountability for Israel’s criminal behaviour, and a modicum of justice for the Palestinians. We are deeply disappointed in the first press release of 2015 from Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird, who condemned this peaceful and lawful initiative as “dangerous.”

The Palestinian people have been subjected for decades to Israel’s criminal behaviour, including: land theft, destruction of olive groves, demolition of homes, arbitrary detention, torture, imprisonment of children, bombing of civilian infrastructure, ethnic cleansing, and other acts that constitute war crimes under international law. Palestinians are equally as entitled as Israelis to human rights and the pursuit of justice.

Sadly, the Harper Government is unconcerned with Israel’s ongoing colonization and occupation of Palestine. While Mr. Baird’s press release from January 1, 2015 called specifically for the Palestinian Authority to recommit to a negotiated solution, the Harper Government was completely silent when Israel approved 13,851 new settlement housing units and demolished over 500 Palestinian structures during the recent Kerry-led “peace talks.”

It was Israel that withdrew from these “peace talks” after the Palestinian Authority acceded to UN conventions, and after Hamas and Fatah signed a Unity Government Agreement. Prior to these actions by the Palestinian Authority, Israel displayed its contempt for these negotiations by failing on its promises to “freeze” expansion of its illegal settlements and to release Palestinian prisoners by a specific deadline. Yet, Baird’s reaction to the failure of these negotiations placed the blame solely on the Palestinians, calling Israel’s withdrawal from the negotiations “understandable.”

The United States and the European Union applauded the Hamas and Fatah Unity Agreement as a rapprochement between conflicted Palestinian factions, but the Harper Government saw it as an opportunity to blame the Palestinians for Israel’s failure to take seriously its obligations to the Palestinians under international law.

IJV calls on all Canadians of conscience to support the right of the Palestinian people to pursue justice. There are few remaining options on the table for a besieged, occupied and dispossessed people who are subject to Israeli behaviour that is both criminal and immoral. At present, Canada supports and enables Israel’s crimes. The “just and lasting peace” that Baird calls for can only be achieved once Israel decides to respect human rights and abide by international law through: ending its occupation of lands occupied since June 1967, ending its institutional discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and acknowledging and respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees under UN Resolution 194.

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